Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Shoe Biz: Dollar Store Flip Flops

 Last week I was on the W-Club forum where the subject of finding flat shoes for dolls came up once again. Well, you know me...I suggested the possibility of making your own. The push-back was well expected... "I wish I did have that skill." For all of you who are still convinced you cannot make shoes for your dolls.....this post is for you. It is entitled "Dollar Store Flip Flops" because, like the merchandise sold in these super discounted mass market stores, the flip flops and sandals here are put together inexpensively, quickly and most of all easily! Better yet....this tutorial is good for creating flat footwear for both the divas and the dude dolls! 

For this project you only need craft foam sheets (sold in a variety of colors and thicknesses), elastic bands, scissors and glue. For the sandals you will need a needle with a super large eye (tapestry needle) and a bit of ribbon, embroidery floss, or thin strip of leather. 

1. Trace around the doll's foot.
2. Design the sole of the shoe. Add length and shape above the toes.
3. The red indicates how I have reshaped the sole
4. Place the foot back onto your new sole. Make whatever adjustments needed to create the final sole.
5. Trace the sole onto the craft foam. Create 2 sets.

Place the doll's foot on one set of the foam soles. You might want to add a piece of double sided tape to hole in place while you work. Wrap the elastic around the foot, joining the edges together underneath. Here I have used a single row of elastic, but feel free to add a double row.
6. Sew the ends of the elastic together.
7. Generously slather on super strength glue on the underside of the insole. Add the second foam sole.
8. Press and hold the two layers while the glue sets. The bulk of the elastic will be absorbed into the foam.
9. And shoes. I used a contrasting color for the bottom layer. It is just that simple!
Let's do it again. This time for Pierre and this time we will do a criss-cross 
1. Start off by tracing around the foot of the doll, then creating the definitive shape of the sole by designing the toe.
2. Wrap the elastic around the doll's foot. I decided to do this in one piece instead of two for ease and to make sure the straps don't pull away from the shoe later on. 
3. Under the foot, the elastic looks like this.
4. Remove and place one set of the foam soles onto the doll's foot.

5. Wrap the elastic around the doll's foot and sole. Underneath will look like this.
6. Add a generous amount of super strong (gel) glue to the underside of the upper.
7. Add the second sole to the upper. Or you can glue the top layer to a bit of craft and cut away the excess.
8. Press well and hold
9. Here, I used clips to hold the bulkiest areas around the elastic until set. When you remove them, there will be pressure marks, but eventually they will go away as the foam regains its shape.

Pump Up the Volume
There are numerous variations you can make. For instance, for Imaan, I made platform flip flops. For my first layer (attached to the elastic bands), I used a thin layer of black. Then I used two layers of foam to create the platform soles.
The problem, of course is that there will always be irregularities between the two layers. I sanded the sides, added a bit of white paint, but ultimately it still needed something. So I drew a design around the sides for an urban touch.

Sassy Sandals
If we leave the Dollar Store and head a little ways uptown, we land in H&M where there is a tad bit more "design" to our basic footwear. Swap out the elastic and use ribbon, tiny strips of leather or embroidery floss for the straps. 
Again this starts out the same as the first steps featured at the top of this post. Prepare 2 sets of soles from the craft foam. 

This doesn't really require this many steps. I just thought I would handhold you through the procedure as I wrap the ribbon through the holes and around her foot.
1. Start out by making two sets of soles. The take one pair and mark the holes where the ribbon will be threaded through. The first set should be about 1/3 down from the top of the sole (enough to cross over the top of the doll's toes). And the second set is about 1/3 down from those.
2. Cut a minimum of 11" of ribbon. You can make this longer if you want the straps to wrap further up her legs.
3. Thread the ribbon through the eye of the needle. You can apply a small dab of white glue to the tips of the ribbon to keep them from fraying while you work.
4. Poke the needle up from the bottom of the sole and through to the top.
5. Pull though then poke down through the hole on the opposite side.
6. The top of your shoe will look like this--a loop that will cross over the top of the toes--at this point. Make sure each side of the ribbon remains equal in length. Remove
7. (For the right shoe:) take the ribbon from under the left side of the shoe and bring it up and over the foot. Thread the ribbon back into the needle and poke it into the lower right hole.
8-10 Go back to the top and take the right end of the ribbon cross it over and thread up the left lower hole poking upwards. The underside will look something like this. 
11-12. Wrap the straps around the doll's ankles and tie to one side.

13. The front of the sandal looks like this.
14. The back view.
15. Glue on the second set of soles using a strong (gel) glue.
16. Trim off the excess.
17. Using the coarse side of an emery board, sand the sides, particularly in the middle where the two layers meet.
18. You can also add a layer of paint around the sides.
19. Here's the front.
20. Here's the back view.

In reality, you can use any of the uppers we created in our other basic Shoe Biz posts for a fancier pair of sandals. What's nice is that you can custom make dolly's shoes to match her outfit. 
1. Cut a pair of insoles from bristol board and glue down to a bit of fabric. Glue stick works here.
2. Clip  using pinking shears or cut zigzags around the edges.
3. Bend everything over the edge and glue down.Using a needle with a large eye, thread the ribbon through the insole and wrap around the ankles as shown in the demo just above. 
4. Use a strong (gel) glue to glue the insole to the foam soles. 

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  1. What a fantastic lesson, April! These sandals appear so professional yet easy to make - with patience of course. Simply LOVE the "zebra inspired pants. Very striking!

    1. Thank you so much Olympia. At first I was not so sure I should post this because it is so basic. But when I finished them and photographed them, I realized how well they had all turned out. This is especially of help when you have a lot of dolls and need some quick and easy footwear for all of them. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. This is such a fantastic idea! I've been thinking for a while to make sandals for my dolls using materials such as cork or craft foam. I can't use harsh materials such as epoxy clay because everytime I put on rubber gloves I get a skin reaction (even with the hypoallergenic ones). And epoxy is not something you should touch with your bare hands.

    I like all of your designs. The "Sassy Sandals" one looks somewhat similar to the idea I had in my head. The criss-cross idea could always be done with different materials for a more elevated look.

    This was such a great post. I'm happy to see that you found some inspiration again.

    1. Thank you, MC. You know, what makes this tutorial especially useful is that craft foam is extremely easy to work with, as opposed to something like leather. I did start one set of shoes using clay (oven baked), but it is more complicated, more time intensive and requires a pretty strong glue to hold the upper to the platform. Eventually I will post that version. But in the meantime, the craft foam is a much easier way to go. I have not tried cork. At one time, I had tried to take a cork from a bottle of wine to make a shoe sole, but carving it was not easy. Then again, there are those sheets of cork which I have not yet tried. Traditional cork is pretty fragile so I think you would need to find a way to stabilize it. Perhaps with a layer of shellac. The sassy sandals have endless possibilities because you could use almost any upper in almost any material! So the Dollar Store flip flops could conceivably be converted into high end footwear!!!

  3. Great tutorial!
    I often use foam to make shoes for Paola Reina.

    1. Thank you Dlubaniny. Well, you are way ahead of me!!! So you don't need me to tell you how easy it is to work with craft foam. Big hugs!!!

  4. Hello April, now is the time for the end of the day or I sit down to read your blog. By reading your new post, you made me want to remake shoes. I really like your models for men. I especially like in the models of woman where the sandal is matched or in the same fabrics as the clothing. I presentememt another sewing project and I wonder if I should create my sandales in the same fabric.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Shasarignis. Oh yes, yes, yes....go on and make some shoes for your dolls....especially when they are so easy to make. You have many options here..from simple slip-on to fancier versions that match the doll's outfit. Can't wait to see what you will choose! Big hugs.

  5. April, these are great, I was wondering if you could use cork sheets? I've never worked with cork, but that would be fun to...enjoyed these ideas, and love the last ones! Sandi

    1. Thank you, Sandi. I have not yet tried cork sheets, but that is an excellent idea. In its usual state, cork is usually pretty fragile. That means you would have to seal it in some way to keep it from disintegrating. Maybe in the form of sheets, it is more stable? It is certainly worth exploring.

  6. Thank you so much, Linda, for your kind words. Yes, I do think they sell the craft foam in thicker dimensions. As soon as I can get to a craft store, I'll probably pick some up since I've got a bunch more dude dolls who need summer footwear. Good luck with the big girl!!! Big hugs.

  7. Wooow, April! These shoes look really sooo coool! You have amazing ideas!

  8. You can also use popsicle sticks cut to size and then add leather etc.


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